Definition of supine in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈs(j)uːpʌɪn/


1(Of a person) lying face upwards. Contrasted with prone (sense 2).
Example sentences
  • A supine man is roughly dragged off like a carcass.
  • A supine figure lay motionless under a stack of blankets.
  • Below each of the two buildings lies a supine male figure, with feet at left and head at right.
flat on one's back, prone, recumbent, prostrate, stretched out, spreadeagled;
lying, sprawling, horizontal, flat as a pancake
1.1 technical Having the front or ventral part upwards.
1.2(Of the hand) with the palm upwards.
2Failing to act or protest as a result of moral weakness or indolence: the government was supine in the face of racial injustice
More example sentences
  • But when it came to ‘policing ‘the franchises, the Arts Council proved utterly supine.’
  • Share prices then start to rise again, until such time that the market becomes so overvalued that our supine friends emerge once again from their hibernation.
  • The same spirit of unimaginative incompetence and weak compromise and supine drift will paralyse trade and business and prevent either financial reorganisation or economic resurgence.
weak, spineless, yielding, enervated, effete;
docile, acquiescent, pliant, submissive, servile, inactive, passive, inert, spiritless, apathetic, indifferent


A Latin verbal noun used only in the accusative and ablative cases, especially to denote purpose (e.g. mirabile dictu ‘wonderful to relate’).



Example sentences
  • The civil service has been politicised and emasculated to the point where it stands supinely by while constitutional proprieties are systematically shredded one by one.
  • I think it is tragic that we are now at the stage that we expect our politicians to lie to us, or at least not to tell the whole truth, and when this behaviour is confirmed to us, we accept it, supinely. ‘Ah,’ we say, ‘it was ever thus.’
  • It was not sufficient or proper for it simply to supinely say, ‘Well, that is the world we have to live in.’


Pronunciation: /ˈs(j)uːpʌɪnnəs/
Example sentences
  • In many ways, my country is still an adolescent country - we can alternate between extraordinary triumphalism and declarations that we are the chosen race, and an extraordinary supineness.
  • The acting tends to be either hysterical or laid back into supineness, with often sloppy diction.
  • But I feel the most sincere gladness that the charge of supineness can no longer apply.


Late Middle English: the adjective from Latin supinus 'bent backwards' (related to super 'above'); the noun from late Latin supinum, neuter of supinus.

Words that rhyme with supine


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: su¦pine

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.